‘Facing’: Filming the Fall Labor Protests in Busan
By Yann Kerloc’h
I shot these images in Busan, Korea, on October 8th. Some filmmakers and people related to movies took buses to see the female worker Kim Jin-suk, who had been occupying a crane on the grounds of her factory, Hanjin, for more than 8 months (since January 6). She has since come down.
This event is a complex story to tell and I guess only Koreans will get what it is about without further information. In addition to the link above, see here for 3WM’s coverage of the issue.
Basically, it’s easy to see which side to choose: the one of poor workers and friends who told me about it, or the one of the police under the orders of a very conservative government.
As a former journalist, I wanted to get directly to the spot. Thanks to a friend, I had the opportunity to go with these people in their bus.
What I’ve seen, confirmed me that I was on a side which fit me, the right side, I think. I cannot say policemen were acting in a bad way. They were even quite kind. But they were not on the side which makes history, they were, as so often, on the “counter-side.”
I filmed what I could with my cellphone, then my Canon DSLR. As I had filmed things before on that day and didn’t plan how far the event could go (the situation lasted for hours), I feared running out of battery and memory. I indeed ran out of both on my cell phone, even if at the beginning, to prevent that, I shot in low quality.
At night, I didn’t have the choice but to film in the highest quality. Then I shot with my Canon DSLR, but it’s not easy to use it as a reportage camera.
The good thing is that it makes a progression in the image quality.
At the editing, I decided to skip all dialogue except one, because I wanted to make these images more universal, focused on symbols and faces. Actually very little was said, especially on the police side, and the sound without dialogue you can hear is the real sound–meaning sometimes there was an entire minute without anybody speaking. I’ve enhanced this silence with sometimes no sound at all.
During the whole event, I wanted to remain as an external viewer, a filmmaker. I’ve seen and heard much more than what is here, but basically I didn’t understand what was exactly going on when I was there, so I wanted to transmit the same feeling to the viewer.
What is clear is what we see: an absurd situation, and at the end, the poetic symbol of a fascinating crane which is triggering all this fuss, and a woman who was, without willing it, a pioneer of the “occupy” movement.
The music is from a Korean band I knew, Glittering Blackness, who agreed to the use of their work for the video. I thought its mood and rhythm fit perfectly to the edit.
Yann Kerloc’h is filmaker born in France and living between South Korea, France, and other worlds.